U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science Office of Scientific and Technical Information

DOE Physicists at Work - Naomi Harley

DOE Physicists at Work Archive


DOE Office of Science celebrates 2005 World Year of Physics

 

DOE Physicists at Work

 

Profiles of representative DOE-sponsored physicists
doing research at universities and national laboratories

 

Compiled by the Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Naomi Harley


"I always tell my students to pick their Ph.D. topic carefully because you usually spend the rest of your life at it or something similar."  So says Dr. Naomi Harley, professor with the New York University School of Medicine.  Dr. Harley knows first hand the excitement of a career blossoming from the seeds of early training.  While still in undergraduate school, she started working at the Health and Safety Laboratory (HASL), in New York City, learning how to measure the exposure to radioactive substances of Atomic Energy workers.  That early research turned into a passion that evolved into a career dedicated to the physics of measuring and assessing human exposure.

 

Naomi Harley

"Radioactivity, especially naturally occurring radioactivity can be used as exquisitely sensitive tracers of substances in the air we breathe and also the water we drink," says Dr. Harley, who also serves on the Medical Isotopes committee at the NYU Medical Center.  "We exploit these tracers to better understand how our environment can be improved.  The result from these measurements determines the impact on peoples' health."

 

Of her early years at HASL, a Department of Energy prececessor facility, Dr. Harley says:  "These were exciting times.  We were learning how to measure the exposure of Atomic Energy workers to radioactive substances such as uranium, radium and radon.  Yet there were no specific instruments to do this job."

 

New instrumentation was developed at HASL, and the research there quickly expanded.

 

"It was interesting for a young researcher to realize we were able to measure concentrations at atom levels - orders of magnitude below any other analytical technique," says Dr. Harley.  "These early radioactivity measurements evolved into measuring fallout radioactivity from the nuclear weapons tests."  The physics was dedicated to assessing human exposure, and volumes of research developed from these fallout years.

 

"For example, there was little known about meteorology, and fallout circling the globe and measured led to the current basic models of tropospheric and stratospheric circulation," says to Dr. Harley.  "Also a great deal of biological information was uncovered using the very small quantities of fallout strontium 90 as a tracer from plants to diet to people."

 

After her early years at HASL, she enrolled in the nuclear engineering graduate program at NYU, always maintaining interest in physics dedicated to measurement and assessment of personal exposure.  Her doctoral thesis was the first detailed model analysis of the bronchial airway dose from inhaled radon decay products dedicated to uranium miner lung dose and later to radon exposure in homes.

 

"The interest in measuring very low concentrations of pollutants persists today," says Dr. Harley.  The thrust of her research has involved developing new passive instrumentation for personal exposure assessment during closure of a former uranium processing facility in Fernald, Ohio.  The major exposure at Fernald is from the radioactive gas radon that is a decay product of the radium, and escapes into the air.

"We were very pleased to develop and patent a miniature 4-chamber passive detector (the 4Leaf) that measures both radio isotopes radon (radon-222) and thoron (radon-220).  We also developed a miniature aerosol particle-size sample that runs with a small pump and measures the average particle size distribution inhaled, using the naturally occurring radioactive aerosols as tracers," says Dr. Harley.  Particle size is the major factor in bronchial lung dose because the smaller the particle, the more likely to deposit in the lung airways.

 

"Although there are many conventional site monitors at Fernald to calculate worker dose, Fernald is the only DOE site with continuous particle-size data along with detailed radon and thoron measurements; products of this research," notes Dr. Harley.  "So as the Fernald facility is remediated, our data exist to calculate very refined dose to the lung in these workers."

 

Development of inexpensive, usually passive instrumentation to measure very low levels of radioactivity that simply cannot be measured by other techniques, is still her passion.

 

"Although radioactivity is a known carcinogen, it is important to know accurately the radiation dose received in order to evaluate its risk," says Dr. Harley.  "Our research is dedicated to this end."

 

 

Radium silo

Radium silo at Fernald.  Former Uranium Processing Facility

 

Dr. Naomi Harley's articles accessed via OSTI:

 

Information Bridge

 

Measurement of Radon, Thoron, Isotopic Uranium and Thorium to Determine Occupational and Environmental Exposure and Risk at Fernald Feed Material Production Center
http://www.osti.gov/bridge/servlets/purl/833886-cnOWtX/native/
http://www.osti.gov/em52/2002projsum/74050.pdf
http://www.osti.gov/em52/2001projsum/74050.pdf
http://www.osti.gov/em52/1999projsum/59882.pdf 

 

1998 annual progress report 

 

Airborne Particle Size Distribution Measurements at USDOE Fernald  

 

Personal and Environmental Exposure Assessment Measurements at Fernald  

 

Radon source apportionment in the home, dosimetry and risk modeling. Final report, 1993—1997

 

Measurement of Radon, Thoron, Isotopic Uranium and Thorium to Determine Occupational and

Environmental Exposure and Risk at Fernald Feed Material Production Center

 

Measurement of Radon, Thoron, Isotopic Uranium and Thorium to Determine Occupational and Environmental Exposure and Risk at Fernald Feed Material Production Center Publication Date: September 25, 2001 

 

Measurements of Radon, Thoron, Isotopic Uranium and Thorium to Determine Occupational & Environmental Exposure & Risk at Fernald Feed Materials Production Center 

 

Measurements of radon, thoron, isotopic uranium and thorium to determine occupational and environmental exposure and risk at Fernald Feed Materials Production Center . 1998 annual progress report

 

Energy Citations Database

 

226Ra IN INFANT DIET AND BONE

 

REGRESSION ANALYSIS OF GAMMA-RAY SPECTROMETER DATA WITH AN APPLICATION TO THE ASSAY OF HUMAN RADIOACTIVITY BURDENS    

 

Indirect measurement sub floor radon using passive detectors

 

Radon reduction using sub floor fans  

 

A biokinetic model for 222Rn gas distribution and alpha dose in humans following ingestion  

 

Cancer mortality among nuclear utility workers: A feasibility study  

 

Measurement and apportionment of radon source terms for modeling indoor environments
DOE/ER/60547-2
DOE/ER/60547-5
DOE/ER/60547-1
DOE/ER/60547-4

 

The importance of recent results from epidemiology Indoor radon: A natural risk Radon calibration factor for charcoal canisters  

 

An improved 222Rn canister using a two-stage charcoal system  

 

Methodology issues in risk assessment for radon  

 

222Rn dosimetry in the dog lung 

 

222Rn alpha dose to organs other than lung  

 

Adsorption and desorption of noble gases on activated charcoal: II. 222Rn studies in a monolayer and packed bed  

 

Adsorption and desorption of noble gases on activated charcoal: I. 133Xe studies in a monolayer and packed bed  

 

Potential lung cancer risk from indoor radon exposure  

 

Does 4 = 2?  Decisions based on radon measurements  

 

Distribution and alpha radiation dose from naturally occurring U, Th, and Ra in the human skeleton  

 

Radon: Is it a problem?  

 

Contribution of radon and radon daughters to respiratory cancer  

 

The measurement of 222Rn and its relationship to environmental variables: Factors controlling indoor radon: Final report for the contract period June 1, 1982 to August 31, 1986

 

Clearance of polonium-210-enriched cigarette smoke from the rat trachea and lung  

 

Measurement of 222Rn and its relationship to environmental variables. Progress report, June 1984-June 1985  

 

The measurement of 222Rn and its relationship to environmental variables: Factors controlling indoor radon: Final report for the contract period June 1, 1982 to May 31, 1985  

 

Factors controlling indoor radon levels. Annual report, June 1983-May 1984  

 

Bias in air sampling techniques used to measure inhalation exposure Monitoring real-time aerosol distribution in the breathing zone  

 

Measurement of /sup 222/Rn indoors and outdoors. Progress report, June 1, 1982-May 31, 1983

Determination of half-dose depth in skin for soft x-rays

 

Direct determination of /sup 222/Rn gas using the electret to remove daughters at formation. Annual progress report, June 1, 1981-May 31, 1982

 

Direct determination of /sup 222/Rn gas using the electret to remove daughters at formation

Alpha radioactivity in cigarette smoke

 

Distribution of polonium-210 in the human lung

 

Alpha absorption measurements applied to lung dose from plutonium-239

 

Permissible levels for occupational exposure to radon daughters

sup 239$Pu vs $sup 226$Ra toxicity in human bone

 

Experimental absorption applied to lung dose from thoron daughters

 

DETECTION LIMITS FOR RADIONUCLIDES IN THE ANALYSIS OF MULTI-COMPONENT GAMMA RAY SPECTROMETER DATA

 

RADIUM-226 AND POLONIUM-210 IN LEAF TOBACCO AND TOBACCO SOIL 1964 11/20

 

RADIUM-226 IN DIET AND HUMAN BONE FROM SAN JUAN , PUERTO RICO 1964 10/17

 

GRAPHICAL RESOLVING OF GAMMA SPECTRA 1964 4/1

 

MINIMIZING SELF-ABSORPTION IN 4π BETA-COUNTING 1963 12/1

 

THE DETERMINATION OF RADIUM-226 IN HUMAN BONE 1963 12/1

 

RADIUM-226 IN HUMAN DIET AND BONE 1963 6/21

 

STORAGE OF STANDARDIZED RADIOACTIVE SOLUTIONS 1963 3/23

 

BETA SCINTILLATION COUNTING WITH THIN PLASTIC PHOSPHORS 1962 1/1

 

A STUDY OF BETA  SCINTILLATION COUNTING WITH PLASTIC PHOSPHORS 1961 2/22

 

AN IMPROVED ALPHA-COUNTING TECHNIQUE 1960 12/1

 

SUMMARY OF GUMMED FILM RESULTS THROUGH DECEMBER 1959 1960 9/1

 

METHOD OF CALCULATING INFINITY GAMMA DOSE FROM BETA MEASUREMENTS ON GUMMED FILM 1957 4/15

 

BETA EMITTERS BY ENERGY AND HALF-LIFE 1955 6/1

 

ANALYZING BETA ABSORPTION GRAPHICALLY TO IDENTIFY EMITTERS 1955 1/1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last updated on Thursday 24 July 2014